Wednesday 8 February 2012

Not quite as given...

"23 year old male, stabbed in the ribs, meet police at RVP, suspect ? on scene"

This job was the grand finale of what for me was a career defining weekend. In a break from the norm I had the same crew mate for my Friday to Sunday nights. At the time I was a relief so having the same crew mate for consecutive shifts was a rarity. To have the same crew mate for three consecutive shifts was unheard of. It was late on sunday evening and we'd had a great few shifts. We'd seen and done everything; delivered 3 babies (again, unheard of), had a cardiac arrest, cut the roof off a car, had a CVA, two MIs, a hypo and a status EP to name but a few. Being relatively new I hadn't seen much and gaining so much experience with a Pped (mentor) who let me actually do stuff was great! When this job came down to us it was met with laughter. Of course we had a stabbing! Off we went. roof lit up and sirens blaring. There is something much more enjoyable about driving on lights in the dark. Maybe it feels more like the movies! As we got near the RVP we got a message to say the police we on scene so we went straight to the address. Due to the amount of police cars we had to park about 20 meters form the house so we grabbed everything we needed and wondered over. From the moment we arrived at the front gate we knew this job was going to test us.

In a scene reminiscent of an episode of CSI we followed the gravitational blood drops up the path to the front door. The door knob were smeared in blood as was the frosted glass. We stepped inside and my boot slipped in a small pool of blood. Grim! Ahead was a long hallway leading to the living at the back of the house. Along the Victoria mosaic tiled floor was a long trailed smear of blood like the death of Malone in the Untouchables! It was quite a harrowing sight to be honest. There were hand prints of blood all over the William Morris wall paper throughout the length of the hall. In the doorway was a copper who looked truly terrified. I think the same look crept across my face as I entered the room. There I was standing there, bag in hand with 9 pairs of eyes fixed on me. The information we had been given wasn't entirely accurate. It was a stabbing but wasn't a 23 year old male. It was 3 x 23 year old males, all with 3-4 stab wounds to their chest. The was blood everywhere, each patient had their own cop who was trying desperately to stop the bleeding. All the patients look like crap. A grey complexion, eyes rollong around their sockets. My heart was pounding so fast I thought it was going jump out of my chest. I froze for a few seconds and off we went. My crew mate headed to the one who looked on deaths door. I took the other two who were next to each other on the sofa. 

I'd never done a stabbing so had never seen a stab wound. These were particularly bad stab wounds. As one of them was breathing I could see his accessory muscles move inside the wound. This was above both of our pay grades. We called for two more ambulances and HEMS. We continued to assess and prepare a handover for the other crews. All the stab wounds were dressed in three sided dressing, basic OB's were taken and the police were utilised. It was frantic. There were dressings everywhere, my crew mate did a production line of cannulation while I drew up bag after bag of fluids. After what seemed like an age the other crews began arriving. Eventually there were 18 people in the room, all fighting to keep these boys alive. HEMS took charge and began arranging extraction of them all. The police started moving the mass of vehicles that were blocking the road while ultrasounds where done and we let the hospital know what we were bringing in. The decision was made for all three to go to the same trauma centre as it was a thoracic specialist. In each each ambulance was a crew,  a member of HEMS, a cop and a patient. The convoy of 3 x ambulances, a DSO, an FRU, a HEMS car and 4 police cars headed off through the streets of east London reminiscent of a Presidential motorcade. This was it. This is why I started this job. This was what we trained for. This is the perception of the life and death on the streets people imagine.

Some forward thinking by the hospital had got all the other ambulances cleared from the entrance. We drove up the ramp and all reversed into our bays watched by 5 other tucks. The blue lights were reflecting off all the buildings around us and the vehicles just kept piling in. Each with our respective patient we headed down the long corridor towards the waiting resus teams and what a sight. About 40 staff awaited us; Nurses, Doctors, Registrars, Surgeons, Consultants, Radiographers the lot. We transferred our patients across and I stepped back to listen to the HEMS handover. As I did a hand rested on my shoulder.

"You're up! It's your patient, you know what to say, just take your time, you'll be fine"

The consultant demanded quiet for the handover and all the eyes on my trauma team fixated on me as I glanced at my PRF and stepped forward. Despite not stopping for air I made to to the end and everyone jumped to work on. I retreated back to the safety of my ambulance and a well earned cigarette. We had our customary HEMS debrief where we get to ask questions and they get to tell us how well we did. It is basically an exercise to make them feel intelligent and reassure us that we did what we should have. 

Despite the obvious issues raised by the prevalence of knife crime to me that wasn't what this job was about. For the first time in my career I felt confident that I had done what I had to, well, and under extreme pressure without needing a safety net. The fact that parts of the job were becoming second nature was comforting and reassuring. To be honest, I struggled a lot at training school and until this point wasn't convinced becoming a paramedic was within my grasp. This job changed that and i'll always look back with fond memories as the time I ceased to be a newbie.


  1. Well done. Hope it was good outcome for Pts as well

  2. Good point! I forgot that paragraph! Male 1 died. His heart was stabbed and had cardiac tamponade. Male 2 survived. He had a collapsed lung from a haemothorax, Male 3 survived. He suurvived despite loosing most of his blood through his carotid artery.

  3. Not to sound too Chavvy......OMFG!
    Brilliant post.
    Well done hun!

  4. Oooff! More than one patient is always a challenge, all of them critical is a nightmare. Good job, well done.


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